India has, yet again, emerged as the number one international source market for Dubai. In 2017, the city of Dubai registered over 2.1 million Indian tourists, making India the first country ever to cross the “2 million mark” in a single year, as per the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).
In terms of growth, there was a 15 percent jump in arrivals in 2017.
There are several factors behind these numbers. Key among them, air connectivity is robust and several key Indian hubs have direct flights to Dubai. Growth in connectivity and ease of travel has transformed Dubai in to a weekend destination. Cities such as Ahmedabad, Pune and Delhi have significantly contributed to the growth of this new segment. Add to that, a thriving Indian population has strengthened VFR (visiting friends and relatives) numbers. Dubai Tourism has also scaled up its marketing and outreach and has roped in Shahrukh Khan to roll out the ‘BeMyGuest’ campaign – where the movie star is seen loitering in the streets of the city, showcasing elements such as architecture, fine dining and engagements for tourists.
The growth in footfalls has not only been restricted to India for the middle-eastern city. Dubai recorded 6.2 percent year-on-year increase in international overnight visitation in 2017, taking the city closer towards its ambitious goal of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by the dawn of the next decade.
Dubai Tourism director general Helal Saeed Almarri, commenting on the numbers in 2017, expressed confidence on achieving the target of 20 million tourists by 2020. “With Dubai firmly consolidating its position as the fourth most visited city globally, we remain confident that our performance will enable us to successfully attain our goals of becoming the most visited city as well as being the most recommended with highest number of repeat Dubai loyalists,” he said.
In the pecking order, India is followed by Saudi Arabia (KSA) in the second place, contributing a total of 1.53 million tourists in 2017. UK at number three clocked 1.27 million travellers, rising 2 percent over 2016. China was at fifth-place with 7,64,000 tourists, up 41 per cent, while Russia with 530,000 visitors was at eighth place, recording a stellar 121 per cent increase over the previous year.
Both markets benefited from easier access following the introduction of visa-on-arrival facilities to Chinese and Russian citizens in late 2016 and early 2017, respectively.
With growing trade and commerce, more airlines servicing routes from Indian cities and rise in disposable incomes of the middle class in India, the growth story for Dubai should continue unabated.